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Clippers Retrospective: Milos Teodosic Was A Fun Interlude

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Milos Teodosic gave the Clippers some good moments, but was never healthy.

LA Clippers v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images

Key Stats

· Signed a 2 year, $12.3 million deal on July, 10 2017

· Played in 60 games over two seasons as a Clipper, starting 36 of them

· In 21.4 minutes per game, averaged 8 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 4.0 assists, shooting 42% from the field, 37.8% from three (4.3 attempts), and 81.1% from the free throw line (0.9 attempts)

· Was waived on February 7, 2019 to clear roster space for the Clippers’ trade deadline moves

Expectations

For a player who wasn’t signed to a big deal, and who had never played in the NBA before, Milos came in with fairly high expectations. He was widely considered the “best player outside the NBA” due to his exceptional play in EuroLeague and in international basketball, and his dazzling playmaking and strong outside shooting seemed like a ready-made fit in the NBA. He was brought in to be the Clippers’ starting point guard as a transition from the ball dominance of Chris Paul to something more fun and egalitarian. While Milos wasn’t expected to lead the Clippers to a title like Paul was, he still had significant pressures to not only perform, but entertain. Clippers fans just could not wait to see Milos’ passing in action.

Reality

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite turn out how Clippers’ fans hoped. Milos got things started off on the right foot with an incredible preseason. He was throwing lobs from three-quarters court, making no-look passes, and generally looking like the playmaking maestro he was billed as. However, the injury issues which dogged him in Europe cropped up almost immediately – Milos partially tore his plantar fascia in just the second game of the season, and promptly missed the next month and a half of the season.

Milos played most of the rest of the season, but looked hobbled at times, and was clearly playing through pain. When he did play, he was good – the Clippers went 29-16 when he was on the court, compared to 13-24 when he was inactive. Milos’ often pitiful defense was offset by his brilliant offensive play. He could make passes only a handful of other NBA players could, and attempted some that nobody else in the NBA (or maybe the world) would. Milos also added a lot of shooting (37.9% from deep on 5.2 attempts), and the team played with better spacing, pace, and movement when he was on the court. Sadly, the Clippers’ playoff push stalled out, and Milos missed the last eight games of the season as his plantar fascia tore completely.

In the 2018 Draft, the Clippers drafted their then point guard of the future, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but it was not originally expected that he would force the Clippers’ hand in giving him big minutes. This assumption proved off – Shai quickly entered the rotation, and then made the leap to starter. With Pat Beverley, Lou Williams, and Avery Bradley all eating up minutes, the only times Milos got to play were when Doc was looking for something different at point, or went small with three guards. Soon, Milos’ minutes ran out entirely, partially due to his persistent leg injuries, and partially because there just wasn’t room for him. Milos’ last appearance in a Clippers’ uniform was December 15, 2018. He then sat on the bench the rest of the year before getting waived in February to clear a roster spot for the Clippers’ trade deadline moves.

The Clippers got one pretty solid year from Milos, despite the injuries, and he did provide some entertaining moments and games, so it’s difficult to say the signing was a total loss. On the other hand, he never seemed healthy or at an NBA-level in terms of conditioning, so it’s not a surprise that he’s back in Europe (with Virtus Bologna). He probably was not worth his contract overall, but it wasn’t a big miss or anything: it just didn’t work out the way it could have.

Legacy

Clippers’ fans will probably remember Milos for a while. Even in his limited time with the team, he made some truly incredible passes, and there was always that 2017 preseason where he seemed like a potentially revolutionary player. He was also the link between Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, between Lob City and the new-era Clippers.More importantly, he always looked like he’d just come from a three-day rave, and was in desperate need of a cigarette. Milos was just cool, and it’s too bad his Clippers (and NBA) career didn’t turn out better. Milos himself said he probably came over a few years too late, and he never seemed all that happy in the US. Hopefully he has a return to form back in Europe.